This 13-day, self-drive adventure takes you along Iceland's famous Ring Road, which circles the entire country. Start in the Golden Circle for views of erupting geysers, iced-over crater lakes, and natural hot springs. Then, head to the southern coast for massive waterfalls, icebergs drifting in the sea, and black-sand beaches. Drive snowmobiles across icy glacial landscapes, search out herds of wild reindeer and close your tour in the modern city of Reykjavík with its vibrant cultural scene.


  • See exploding geysers gush to heights of 100 feet
  • Fly along snow-covered trails via dogsled
  • Soak in the healing thermal waters of Mývatn Nature Baths
  • Hunt for the aurora borealis under midnight skies

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Keflavík, Drive to the Golden Circle Golden Circle
Day 2 Dog Sledding Tour Golden Circle
Day 3 Drive to Vík, South Coast Waterfalls & Black-Sand Beaches Vík
Day 4 Eyjafjallajökull Snowmobiling Tour Vík
Day 5 Drive to Höfn, Skaftafell Nature Reserve & Glacier Lagoons Höfn
Day 6 Drive to Egilsstadir, Eastfjords & Vok Baths Egilsstadir
Day 7 Eastfjords Villages, Reindeer Safari Egilsstadir
Day 8 Drive to Lake Mývatn, Mývatn Nature Baths Lake Mývatn
Day 9 Dettifoss, Jokulsargljufur & Husavik, Seaside Horseback Tour Lake Mývatn
Day 10 Drive to Laugarbakki, Akureyri & Godafoss, Forest Lagoon Laugarbakki
Day 11 Explore the Vatnsnes Peninsula Laugarbakki
Day 12 Drive to Reykjavík, Super Jeep Hunt for the Northern Lights Reykjavík
Day 13 Drive to Keflavík via Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, Drive to the Golden Circle

Catch one of the regular eruptions of Strokkur geyser

Welcome to Iceland! After your arrival in Keflavík, pick up your rental car and begin your tour of the Ring Road, or Route 1. This is one of Iceland's main roads, and just like the name sounds, it circles the entire country. Your drive today takes you to the Golden Circle, where you'll find some of Iceland's most amazing natural landmarks. 

Start with a visit to Þingvellir National Park, which is located in the rift valley between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Stop in at the Hakid Visitor Center, which has different seasonal interactive exhibits on the history of the area and its people. Then, head to the Geysir geothermal area for erupting geysers. This is home to the Strokkur geyser, which erupts every 8-10 minutes and reaches heights of nearly 100 feet (30 m). Later, continue to Gullfoss (Golden Falls) for a hike around the area. 

While the Golden Circle has plenty of tourist-centric sights, there are also a few off-the-beaten-path places worth visiting. Kerid Crater Lake is one such destination, featuring a lake surrounded by red volcanic rock. In winter, the lake freezes over, and you can ice skate on it, so bring your skates if you want to give it a try! The town of Hveragerði is another interesting stopping point. Here, you'll find several natural hot springs scattered in the nearby hills, where you can relax for a bit in those warming, healing waters. Overnight in the location of your choice, and rest up for tomorrow's adventures.

Day 2: Dog Sledding Tour

See the Golden Circle by dog sled

Explore the Golden Circle via four-legged transport today as you ride along winter trails while being pulled by energetic and powerful huskies. You might think that this is a historical mode of travel in this part of the world, but dog sledding was actually never used much here due to the unpredictable weather and how much (or little) snow accumulation might occur. Most people in Iceland enjoy the sport for fun now, and you can get it in on it, too, with today's excursion.

You'll start at a nearby dog farm where you'll do a meet and greet with the huskies, then chat with your musher guide and get an overview of the tour. During the ride, your musher will share information about dog sledding, as well as the history of the areas you travel through. Afterward, you'll have a chance for some photos with the dogs before you head back to your accommodations for the evening. 

Day 3: Drive to Vík, South Coast Waterfalls & Black-Sand Beaches

The black-sand beaches of Reynisfjara

Your tour continues with a drive to the South Coast, with your final destination being the town of Vík. Make your first stop at the iconic Seljalandsfoss, the only known waterfall of its kind that allows you to walk behind it. The snow-covered ground and icicles near the falls make it an especially picturesque place for winter photos, although hikers should be cautious of ice along the paths. Nearby, you'll find Skógafoss, with impressive 200-foot (62 m) cascading waters.

For stunning panoramic views of the coast, visit Dyrhólaey Peninsula, a nearly 400-foot (120 m) promenade with stone arches and nesting puffins. Then, continue to the village of Skogar for a tour of the Skogar Folk Museum. The museum contains more than 15,000 regional artifacts and includes an outdoor, open-air area that showcases Iceland's architectural history. 

Just before you reach Vík, you'll come to the black-sand beaches of Reynisfjara, home to offshore basalt sea stacks that are also seabird nesting grounds. Known as Reynisdrangar, these stacks dominate the view, rising out of the sea and across the horizon. Later, head to Vík and settle in at your accommodations, then head out to walk around town and grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. While small, Vík is a great hub for visitors, and you'll find plenty of food options. You can also visit Vík í Myrdal Church, a lovely small church perched on a hill overlooking the town. 

Day 4: Eyjafjallajökull Snowmobiling Tour

Snowmobile on a glacier
Snowmobiling on Iceland's glaciers

Take glacier sightseeing to the next level today with a snowmobile tour of Eyjafjallajökull glacier. You'll start at the base, Gljúfrabúi, which is located near Road 249. After a safety briefing, don your snowsuit, helmet, and mask, then hop into a modified Super Jeep to drive up the slopes of Eyjafjallajökull and onto the glacier. From there, you'll transfer to snowmobiles and begin your adventure.

Eyjafjallajökull is a rarity in that it is a stratovolcano, where an ice cap covers the caldera of a volcano. This means that under the glacier ice, a real volcano lurks, and the glacier has the ability to erupt! Your guide will take you across a pristine expanse of snow as you drive around rock formations and massive natural ice sculptures. The glacier views extend across vast snowfields and touring mountains, and your guide will share information about the glaciers, how they formed, and the myths and legends that surround them. Later, enjoy your last night in Vík before continuing your Ring Road journey tomorrow. 

Day 5: Drive to Höfn, Skaftafell Nature Reserve & Glacier Lagoons

Icebergs at Jokulsarlon
Icebergs at Jokulsarlon

Get back on the road again today, heading east. Your first stop after you leave Vík will be the canyon of Fjadrargljufur, where you'll find hiking trails and the winding river of Fjaðrá. From there, head to Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Nestled between the tongues of Vatnajökull Glacier, the reserve offers a variety of hiking options, including an easy walk to the Skaftafellsjokull glacier tongue and a 3-mile (5 km) trek up to Svartifoss waterfall.

Your next destination will be Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Walk the black-sand shores of Diamond Beach while taking in the unusual sight of huge blocks of glacier ice drifting in the lagoon and scattered across the sand. You're likely to see seals, porpoises, or small whales in the water, and if you want a closer look, boat tours are available. Diamond Beach is also home to natural ice caves, which can be toured during the winter months. 

This afternoon, make your way to the town of Höfn, today's final stop. After checking in at your accommodations, you can explore this small fishing village, which sits right at the end of a peninsula and is surrounded on three sides by the ocean. As expected, restaurants here are literally bursting with seafood, so prepare to eat well! The town is also home to several museums that provide insight into the history of the area. 
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Day 6: Drive to Egilsstaðir, Eastfjords & Vök Baths 

Vök Baths in winter

Drive the rugged coastlines of the Eastfjords, one of the Ring Road's most scenic stretches. You'll be surrounded by an abundance of towering mountains and picturesque fjords, as well as some very charming fishing villages worth visiting. Stop in at the town of Seyðisfjörður, which sits on a fjord of the same name and boasts beautiful views, or head to the town of Fáskrúðsfjörður to learn about the 19th-century French fisherman who settled here. You'll also want to stop at Studlagil canyon, which boasts the largest number of basalt rock columns in Iceland and is bisected by a gorgeous blue glacial river.

Later, you'll make your arrival into the town of Egilsstaðir and check in to your accommodations. East Iceland's largest town, Egilsstaðir, is considered the "capital of the east" and is a central transportation hub. It sits right on the banks of Lagarfljot, which is rumored to host a lake monster. A drive around the lake will take you to Hallormsstaðaskógur, the largest forest in Iceland with more than 80 different species of trees, and hikers can take a short hike up to the nearby Hengifoss waterfall.

Egilsstaðir is also home to Vök Baths. Located just a short distance down the road on Lake Urriðavatn, this collection of geothermal floating pools is a top East Iceland attraction. You can soak in the mineral-rich pools, relax in a steamy sauna, or have a meal at the attached bistro—all while taking in the backdrop of amazing lake and mountain views. You'll want to get a good night's rest at your lodgings tonight, as there will be plenty more to explore tomorrow.

Day 7: Eastfjords Villages, Reindeer Safari

Meet East Iceland's reindeer herds

Today you'll have the opportunity to see more of the Eastfjords and surrounding areas. Divert from the Ring Road and head to Mjóifjörður, a remote fjord that is home to the village of Brekkuthorp. Visit the region's many waterfalls, get a view of an old shipwreck at the bottom of the fjord, and go to the Dalatangi lighthouse, a great place for views of the countryside. You also won't want to miss Borgarfjörður Eystri, located near the settlement of Bakkagerdi. This fjord has a human population of just 130 people but a much larger population of puffins, a sight well worth seeing! 

Later, take a guided expedition in search of reindeer. East Iceland is home to the only reindeer herds in the country. Introduced from Norway in the late 1700s, there were once thousands of them across Iceland, but all eventually died out, save for those in the east. Enjoy a 4WD Jeep tour with an expert guide, who will take you to the regions where the herds can often be found in the winter months, all while sharing their expertise and knowledge about the reindeer's history and behaviors. 

Day 8: Drive to Lake Mývatn, Mývatn Nature Baths

The relaxing Mývatn Nature Baths

Your next destination is Lake Mývatn and the aqua waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths. The lake is Iceland's fourth-largest body of water, and a diverse array of volcanic and geothermal natural wonders surrounds it. Once you've settled at your accommodations, your day is free to explore. Start with a walk to the bubbling mud pits along the landscapes of Hverir and Leirhnjukur, or hike to Dimmuborgir, an area of lava rocks that resemble ancient towers.

Fans of the series "Game of Thrones" will want to stop in at nearby Grjótagjá Cave, a natural spring tucked away under layers of lava rock that was once a film site for the show. You can also visit the massive Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters, also known as "rootless" craters, which look like real volcanic craters but actually have no magma conduit. Finish the afternoon with a trek to the volcanic crater of Hverfjall (Crater Mountain). 

This evening, warm up with a dip in the healing waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths. Built in 2004, this alkaline lagoon is rich in minerals and purported to promote general health and vitality. With temperatures that hover around 104°F (40°C), you can swim, soak, or hop into one of the nearby steam baths, which are vented with natural geothermal steam. There is also an on-site café at the baths, where you can have a light dinner or snack.

Day 9: Dettifoss, Jokulsargljufur & Húsavik, Seaside Horseback Tour

Take a seaside horseback ride

Visit some of the sights around Lake Mývatn via the Diamond Circle, a route that takes you north and circles back around. Start with the cascades of Dettifoss, located just under 50 miles (77 km) from the lake area and considered to be Europe's most powerful waterfall. From there, head to Jokulsargljufur, an impressive 15-mile (25 km) long glacial river canyon with stunning winter views. Stop in at the horseshoe-shaped Asbyrgi canyon and take an easy hike to the turquoise waters of Botnstjorn pond before continuing to the town of Húsavik, known as the whale watching capital of Iceland. 

For a closer look at Iceland's beautiful coastlines, take a guided horseback tour out of Húsavik. You'll be matched with a horse that meets your equestrian skills, and your guide will take you along the beaches and into the hills, where you'll see fantastic panoramas of the bay of Skjálfandi (World of Whales). During the ride, guides will share information about the history of the village and surrounding areas. 

Day 10: Drive to Laugarbakki, Akureyri & Godafoss, Forest Lagoon

Godafoss waterfall in winter

Continue your journey along the Ring Road today, heading northwest and toward the coast. Make your first stop at the magnificent Godafoss waterfall, otherwise known as the "Waterfall of the Gods." Flowing from the Skjálfandafljót River, it falls from a height of nearly 40 feet (12 m) and is 100 feet (30 m) wide. After taking advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime photo ops offered here, drive to the town of Akureyri

Akureyri is the second-largest city in Iceland and is the main hub of the northern regions. Grab a meal at a local restaurant, or walk the downtown area, where you'll find several museums, interesting architecture, and botanical gardens. If you're looking for more invigorating soaks in Iceland's geothermal pools, head to the Forest Lagoon. Located just outside of town, this newly opened resort area offers hot pools, a sauna, two in-water pool bars, and an on-site restaurant, all of which are surrounded by deep green, tranquil forests. 

You'll overnight in the village of Laugarbakki this evening, but before that, you can add to your tour with a drive along the coast of the Troll Peninsula, with a stop at the fishing village of Siglufjörður, Iceland's herring capital. This quaint town has the vibrancy of a much bigger city, with museums, music festivals, hiking, and even skiing. Be sure to visit the Herring Era Museum, which is set in several old warehouses and tells the story of how the herring industry helped pull the whole country out of poverty.

Day 11: Explore the Vatnsnes Peninsula

Winter views of the Hvitserkur sea stack 

Explore the Vatnsnes Peninsula, an often overlooked region with several options for lesser-visited but equally impressive natural landmarks. Start at the Hvitserkur sea stack, a nearly 50-foot (15 m) monolith rising from the sea. Legend has it that Hvítserkur was once a troll, terrorizing the nearby Þingeyraklaustur convent until he was captured by the rays of the sun and turned to stone.

You'll also want to stop in at the village of Hvammstangi, home to the Icelandic Seal Center. This research center offers exhibits that detail the history and lives of the seals of Iceland, and you can learn about the different species or take a guided seal-watching tour, where you also might see other wildlife like the arctic fox, whales, and puffins. And prior to returning to your accommodations for the evening, take a visit to Borgarvirki, a volcanic plug that is rumored to have once been a Viking fortress. Climb up to the top for some truly breathtaking views. 

Day 12: Drive to Reykjavík, Super Jeep Hunt for Northern Lights

The northern lights over Reykjavík 

Travel to Reykjavík today, a once-small trading post that has evolved into Iceland's largest city and modern hub. After checking in at your hotel, start exploring some of the city's historic sites. Head to the waterfront and see the Sun Voyager, a large metal sculpture that replicates a Viking longship, or get in a view of the whole city by climbing the tower at the church of Hallgrimskirkja. check out the main street of Laugavegur and the town square, where you can enjoy a meal at a local restaurant. The city also has a vibrant cultural and music scene, a variety of design shops, art galleries, and several interesting museums. 

Tonight, you'll have an opportunity to seek out one of Iceland's most amazing phenomena: the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Iceland's winter climate makes it one of the best places to catch sight of the aurora, which are created from tiny particles, protons, and electrons that escape into the earth's atmosphere and hit molecules, creating a magical glow. Travel via Jeep or SUV on a guided tour that will take you to the best places to see these colorful lights as they dance across the night skies. 

Day 13: Drive to Keflavík via Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart

Farewell to Iceland!

It's time to depart today, but be sure to make time to explore some of the Reykjanes Peninsula first. Located in between the Reykjavík and Keflavík airports, this otherworldly landscape isn't as visited as other parts of Iceland but has just as many geological wonders. Stop in to see the geothermal areas of Gunnuhver Krysuvik for steamy hot springs and the green-hued volcanic crater lake of Graenavatn.

Just before you head to the airport, take a walk on the Bridge Between Continents (Europe Miðlína), part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which pulls apart a few centimeters every year. You can cross the bridge between the continental plates and look down at the gap below—an excellent conclusion to your Iceland adventure. Safe travels home or to your next destination! 

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Map of Winter Tour of Iceland's Ring Road - 13 Days
Map of Winter Tour of Iceland's Ring Road - 13 Days